People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 26

needs to first address whether the challenge is a problem or
a polarity. Outward signs of a polarity are persistent tension,
reoccurring chronic issues, mixed contradictory messages,
and strong resistance to change. The role of the leader is to
explore opportunities and advantages in the tensions rather
than suppress or deny them. Once team members recognize
that elements of their thoughts, actions, and emotions are
complementarily and equally true, they can begin reframing
the seemingly contradictory perspectives from an either-or
perspective to a both-and perspective (polarity thinking).1
Transformation begins once VTs (1) realize their present understanding is no longer sufficient, (2) begin experimenting
and taking in new information and viewpoints, (3) can see two
viable alternatives, and (4) look for new solutions that accommodate conflicting perspectives through both-and thinking.
The question then becomes, "how can we do both?" followed
by "which actions are most suitable for our team context" and
"what do we need to accomplish that." Both-and thinking
can initially feel counterintuitive and will take practice and
patience.
Assessment. Awareness can also be raised by an assessment
of a VTs current status on selected polarities (e.g., through
group discussion, survey, and feedback) or more ideally, an
assessment combined with polarity thinking training. The
assessment should contain items on the potential benefits of
each pole and the potential detriments of over-focusing on
each pole to the neglect of its pole partner, as it is important
that team members see the potential for good and bad from
each pole of the polarity. This helps to minimize rifts between
members advocating different poles of a polarity (e.g., some
members advocating for more traditional schedules and
others pushing for more flexible schedules), as members can
see the benefits and detriments of both poles. Understanding
how polarities work also helps team members to know when
adjustments are necessary and to recognize other polarities
that they may face. For example, experiencing difficulties
when trying to integrate the contributions of different members may signal a challenge stemming from the synchronicity
polarity.

Align Actions

Once VT members are aware of their polarities they can then
consider how to manage them. For each polarity there are

actions that can help achieve both-and results (see Table 3).
However, to fully leverage the power of polarities for improving team effectiveness, actions must be aligned with the team's
characteristics. Not all VTs are the same, and some of their key
features cause some actions to be more beneficial than others.
HR can help VTs best customize action plans by considering
their: 1) global dispersion; 2) competing demands; and 3)
nature of work.
Global dispersion: Are team members located around the
world? Global dispersion describes the extent to which team
members are separated across time and geography. Members
of globally dispersed VTs are likely to live in different time
zones and struggle to find common meetings times. In these
cases, many of the typical recommendations to manage the
scheduling polarity (e.g., 2 to 4 core hours where all team
members are expected to be available) are no longer feasible.
When this happens, teams need to shift to more asynchronous means for communication (i.e., document repositories,
threaded discussion lists, email). The challenges of global
dispersion become even more exacerbated when: 1) frequent
communication is required among team members; and 2)
when the team has high levels of diversity. Cultural differences, for example, can challenge team members' communications and increase the potential for misunderstandings.
Differences often make it harder to find common ground and
bond over shared interests, putting pressure on the relationship pole of the leadership polarity. In these instances, creating
opportunities for shared experiences and assuring ample time
for informal communications becomes very important. Ensuring open communications and knowledge sharing among
members is vital for all teams and especially for VTs.
Competing demands: How many other commitments do
VT members have? Employees are often called upon to simultaneously participate in numerous VTs as well as more traditional work assignments. Many of the common recommendations for managing VTs assume members' efforts are focused
on that one particular team. For example, VTs are often
encouraged to synchronize their schedules, establish goals,
and set deadlines. However, when members are assigned to
multiple teams, synchronizing their schedules becomes like
trying to solve a constantly reconfiguring Sudoku puzzle.
Some control mechanisms (e.g., project management soft-

TABLE 2: THE THREE As OF POLARITY MANAGEMENT

26

BE AWARE

ALIGN ACTIONS

* Polarity perspective
taking
* Assessment

* Global dispersion
* Competing demands
* Nature of work

PEOPLE + STRATEGY

ACQUIRE RESOURCES
*
*
*
*

Staffing
Training
Planning
Technology



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2

From the Executive Editor
From the Guest Editor
Perspectives
Ignition Teams: Rising to the Challenges of Innovation
Challenge Accepted: Managing Polarities to Enhance Virtual Team Effectiveness
Facilitating Trust and Communication in Virtual Teams
Building Entrepreneurial Teams: Talent, Social Capital, and Culture
Organizations That Get Teamwork Right
Team Development: The Power of Debriefing
The Rise of Digital Team Building
Executive Roundtable
In First Person
Linking Theory + Practice
Insight into Action
Leadership Insights
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Cover1
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Cover2
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 1
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 2
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 3
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - From the Executive Editor
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 5
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - From the Guest Editor
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 7
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Perspectives
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 9
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 10
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 11
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 12
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 13
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 14
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 15
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Ignition Teams: Rising to the Challenges of Innovation
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 17
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 18
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 19
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 20
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 21
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Challenge Accepted: Managing Polarities to Enhance Virtual Team Effectiveness
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 23
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 24
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 25
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 26
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 27
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 28
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 29
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Facilitating Trust and Communication in Virtual Teams
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 31
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 32
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 33
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 34
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 35
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Building Entrepreneurial Teams: Talent, Social Capital, and Culture
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 37
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 38
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 39
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 40
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 41
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Organizations That Get Teamwork Right
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 43
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 44
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 45
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Team Development: The Power of Debriefing
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 47
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 48
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 49
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 50
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 51
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - The Rise of Digital Team Building
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 53
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 54
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 55
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Executive Roundtable
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 57
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 58
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 59
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 60
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 61
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - In First Person
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 63
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 64
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 65
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Linking Theory + Practice
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 67
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 68
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 69
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Insight into Action
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 71
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Leadership Insights
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 73
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - 74
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Cover3
People & Strategy Spring 2018 Vol. 41 No. 2 - Cover4
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